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CHAPTER 11
THE DESERT GUARDIAN
f^T^HE stars were still thick overhead, the crescent moon I was still smiling gallantly upon us both, the Sphinx I still rose transfigured and majestic in the silvery
JL Yearns, when I turned my head away to the left, where, in my vision, I had watched the sea rise like a furious monster and devour the dry world.
A bat, mistaking my still body, perhaps, for part of the landscape, flapped its wings against my head and flew off, sending a slight shiver of repulsion down my spine. Apparently it had come up out of some opened subterranean mummy-tomb,
And I thought of the great ocean of sand which rolls across the three million square miles of the Sahara Desert every now and then, never breaking its flow until it reaches the long ridge of bare limestone hills which rise like rose-painted walls from the ground, hills which protect Egypt and guard the valley of the Nile for such a long distance. Nature, as of set purpose, seems to have thrust up the Libyan Hills to save Egypt from being overrun by the very desert which she has also made.
The danger is very real, About the period of early spring, each year, cyclonic winds of terrific force, the dreaded Khamseen, declare war against the northern portion of Africa and whistle furiously across the continent all the way from the Atlantic shores. As they move forward, like an invading army thirsting for loot and victory, the sand and dust move with them. The determirted'crowds of whirling sand grains spread themselves everywhere, covering the land with a golden shroud. Where no resistance is made to their encroachment, they bring desolation with the years, the sepulchral desolation of the grave, for they entomb huts, houses, monuments, temples and even whole cities. Thus the yellow sand holds imperious sway and rules the land with resistless sceptre. Such is the force of these